Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day and Other Rambling Thoughts

I hope all the moms out there are having a great Mother's Day weekend. We are having a mother's day brunch for our families-there will be six moms here, including me, so it should be fun. Lord knows, my mother deserves something for having had five kids--four of us before the age of 25 (I am in the middle). My siblings and I each have one child--I guess none of us could stand the thought of having two kids who would fight with each other and create chaos the way we did. I often think that the number of kids that people have is correlated with the size of their original family, in addition to how well that family managed with it's size.

For example, I know a woman who was an only child and had children later in life but was determined to have two children so that the first would not be an only child like she was. Apparently, she and her mother had a very symbiotic relationship and this woman felt that another child was needed to keep that smothering bond from rearing its ugly head in her new family. I, on the other hand, was always afraid to recapitulate my early years where noise was endless and uncontrollable, and privacy nonexistent. Of course, many people who come from larger families see their childhood as idyllic and go on to have large families themselves, like one law professor from a family of six who went on to have seven children. All the more power to those like her!

Anyone else notice that the size and function or dysfunction of the family you were born into shaped how large or small your current family is?


Anonymous ELizabeth said...

I come from a family of three and I have three children- although as my children grow older I often wish we had had one or two more. I have a friend who is the 7th of 15 kids! She loved being in the middle of a big family since "I got to know both ends." She has 7 children,although she is the only one of her siblings to have more than two. She says that her older siblings felt like they had already "been there, done that" when it came to child rearing (although I believe that all of her siblings have at least one child).

9:12 PM, May 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one sibling. My wife has one sibling. We have two children. All families seem reasonably functional.

9:54 PM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger JCJim said...

I come from a family of four, all boys. My wife was an only child and even before we got married she would always say that she wanted to have at least 2 children, she did not like growing up as an only child, especially as she was brought up in Manhattan, in a building with few children and few places to play outside with other children. We have 3 children. My brothers have 4,2 and 3 children. So I guess growing up having to share bedrooms and clothes didn't bother any of us too much. ( the brother with 2 children is also married to an only child).

7:01 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger dadvocate said...

Growing up I was one of six children, 3 boys and 3 girls. I have 4 children, my youngest brother has 2, my other brother died before marrying (no children). Between my three sisters? Only one child and she was unplanned/accidental. I always found this to be quite intrigueing. Not sure exactly what it means except they didn't like the idea of having children. All three sisters are very career oriented also.

9:54 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from a family of two but I have always wanted to have more children. My wife is from a family of five. We paln on having at least three children.

11:08 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the oldest of three; my husband is the youngest of three. We have three children. I don't see a correlation, however, since all three of mine were conceived while using birth control.

11:22 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger bearing said...

Dr. Helen,

Some friends of mine and I have a hypothesis along these lines --- namely, that as soon as a person conceives the (n+1)th child, where n is the number of children in the family the person was born into, panic ensues.

For me, n=2; for my husband, n=3. I'm pregnant with my third. Even though the baby was planned and we hope to have more, this pregnancy has been very... unreal, I guess. I had a hard time connecting with it.

A friend comes from an n=5 family; her husband, n=2. When they conceived #3, it was the husband who took some time before he was really happy about it.


11:26 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is somewhat interesting in these comments and the original post is that nowhere is there present the idea of an obligation to have this or that many children, other than perhaps to provide a sibling to an only child.

I'm not saying there should be an obligation, but I wonder if any society can long exist without one. Since some women die before childbearing age, some (for a variety of reasons) simply cannot have children or can have only one, the only way for the average number of children per woman to be two or above is for it to be "normal" for those who can do so to have three or more children.

But we all know that raising children is hard, especially for the mother. Without a sense of obligation to have a good number of children, perhaps there just won't be that many. It may also be the case that the reason children of large families tend to have large families is that this sense of obligation is passed on.

(I'm a guy from six, have five, and my siblings who could have more than one all have three or more.)

11:27 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous barbara said...

Very interesting. My mother has 9 brothers and sister, and all but two of them had small families. In my generation, there are much larger familes. My sister has 5 children, and several of my cousins have 4-6 children. My theory has always been that you always want what you haven't got!

11:29 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Will said...

nice title

11:31 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom was one of 13, my dad one of 5. My mother's parents were immigrants from Germany who did not allow their children to speak English at home. They settled in Nebraska. My father's parents were Okies who left the dust bowl for Idaho in a Model T when my father was 5. My parents met in Idaho, where my mother did part of her nurse's training. They had 5 children, one of whom died at age 4. The four remaining have children, my brother, 4, my two sisters, one each, and me, 2. If I had found my children's father earlier (I was 32 and 36 when my kids were born), I would have tried for more, I'm almost certain, since he's a great father and husband.

My children do not have the rich history I had of 80 cousins and family reunions of 250 people. We all fit in a single living room when we get together.

Now at my age of 52, as I interviewed my 80-year-old mother on tape about her memories of the Great Depression, I found out that my aunt (her sister) who died at age 12 of TB actually contracted the flu as an infant during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 and was sickly for her entire life as a result. This made an impact on me - I feel much more connected to the past since this interview. Now I need to interview more of the remaining relatives about their memories (have to hurry on my 90-year-old aunt), so that my children have historical perspective that they are not receiving from their dumbed-down education.

It was with that interview that I realized people now have too few children. Scarcity is not a disease - we have so much and work so little for it, by comparison to my mother and father's experience. Are we raising a generation with hybrid vigor, or a generation of hot-house orchids? Who will carry the memories for my family, since we are so few, by contrast? Will our memories be of our first experience with Pong and our children's be of XBox? Or will we have memories of substance? Will September 11 be to this generation a call to protect and defend their country, as my parents heeded the call after December 7, or will our fears of "loss of privacy" because our phone number have been harvested be our undoing, so that our memories will be snuffed out by a worse attack?

Gee. Sorry for the bummer answer. I guess I've been reading Oriana Fallaci and am concerned.

11:37 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I think there is a grain of truth to that--people want what they did not experience. If you come from a big family--a small one seems good (unless you had a very good experience with a large family). If you come from a small family (as my parents did, one sibling each), you want a big family to make up for that. I think there is also an interaction of personality. If you were an introvert and came from a big family, a small one seems good, whereas if you are an extrovert from a big family, you may want a big family.


My thoughts are that it really depends on what happened within the family structure. I know a man who had a younger sister who made his family life miserable (the sister was mentally ill) and he became anxious about having a second child. Perhaps anxiety ensues at the thought of the number being higher than the original family because that is what we are used to and once you change that dynamic--i.e. to the third kid when you are from a family of two, you are not quite sure what to expect and panic sets in.

11:38 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Khazar-khum said...

My husband is the oldest of five. Of his siblings, his two sisters have 3 children between them. His two brothers are unmarried & have no plans to have children.

I am 14 years younger than my sister. She has no children. I wanted children but am unable to carry to term.

My stepsister, an only child, has three daughters. Only one of them was planned.

So now I have "children" with four legs and permanent fur coats. While I can keep them from serious trouble and can control their love lives, I do miss having the other type around. OTOH, I can 'borrow' my nieces, and when they get tired & cranky I can send them home.

11:40 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 11:37:

Yes, I have read Oriana Fallaci's work and get concerned also. However, I think one major reason people do not have as many kids is that it is much harder to have them now than in your parent's time. The expectations of having children is so high and the expense is great per child. Society expects the "perfect parent." Parents cannot discipline their children for fear of being tagged an "abuser." Schools expect constant participation in the form of volunteers, performances and parental involvement. You can't just send the kids to play outside anymore--the news informs you that your child will be snatched. Need to run into the store while your child is in the car? You might be charged with child neglect. You are responsible for watching your kid 24/7 and anything that happens is your fault for being a horrible neglectful parent. When I was 12, I babysat all over the neighborhood, now you can be charged with neglect or have rights to your children taken away if you leave your 11 year old home unattended--don't believe it? I work with cases like this all the time in the court system.

If you try to teach your kids morals and how to behave, the kid in class next to them has a whole different standard and your kid knows that the other kids get away with mayhem. If you try to teach your child that they have to work hard to make it in the world--the kids feel like suckers when most of their classmates get anything they want at home and more. It is hard to be a parent today and raise kids. Given the pressure of society, schools and the courts,I am surprised people have as many kids as they do.

11:53 AM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous triticale said...

I was the older of my parents' second crop. The first pair were teens when I was born and out of the house soon after I started forming memories. My wee wifey was an only child, treated like a servant by her mother.

We had one son, initially unplanned. Now, as an adult he is my closest friend. We both wanted more but she could not carry to term - extensive health issues ending in surgically assisted menopause. Our relationship with our son was nothing like either of our childhoods; I doubt his relationship with any siblings would have been anything like mine.

12:07 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fallaci or not, we're breeding enough. Most of the things I value most in life are menaced by overpopulation. You have to get permits to float down the Grand Canyon or walk in a wilderness. Open fields I biked through as a kid with a deer rifle have sprung up in fungoid condos.

I also think it's a relatively rare talent to be able to rear more than 2 kids without one of them ending up dysfunctional.

That said, here on mother's day, I wish I could have had children with my present wife, rather than the one I did.

12:13 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Count me as an only child who wanted at least two. (More would have been great but it was not to be.) I loved being an only child and I sometimes regret that we can't give our two children the same lavish, undivided attention I received.

As an only child, I'm used to having the world revolve around me. I like being a parent so much that I wanted as many children as possible ... for me. True to the only child I am, I'm indulging myself with a houseful of children and dogs.

12:20 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

I'm sorry. My last post sounded selfish (which I am) and sexist (which I'm not). For the record, we parents agree on our lifestyle, children, dogs, etc., and we're both happy with our choices.

12:25 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Silvermine said...

Absolutely. I'm from a family of four and mostly have happy memories (I love my family) so I want to have a ton of kids. My husband comes from a family with just two kids, and his sister's just annoying and his parents never got along... heck, I hsould be happy he's thrilled to have one kid. ;) We have #2 on the way, because I think he doesn't want ot have an "only" but we may be in for a big fight over #3.

Part of it is just that he wants to make sure he can provide for everyone. It's funny -- my family was MUCH less well off when I was little than his was. But he's the one that worries about too many kids means we wouldn't have money. Could be because I know I can live without and be happy... and maybe he's afraid that without the money to buy gadgets, he won't be happy. (But hey, we had gadgets too! Computers are an essential part of the budget. ;) )

12:35 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen, your thoughts above about "parental responsibilty" are right on point. My children are grown, and I certainly happy naot to be raising children today as it seems to get more and more difficult with so many people telling parents what to do (or maybe better stated as what NOT to do).

Some additional thoughts: 1) Families are getting smaller as they are getting richer. Years ago (and stretching back into history) children were a form of wealth; they were workers on the farm, wage earners and old age security, so the more the better, especially for poorer people. 2) Disease, accidents, war, etc. killed many children; people had more of them so there'd be survivors.
These factors aren't there today, so there's more of a choice. Add in birth control and the lessening influence of religion for many people.

Mike Doughty

12:35 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Jay said...

I am the middle of five; an older brother and sister, a younger brother, and a younger half-brother. Another factor in family dynamics comes into play, and that is spacing. We were born in 1954, 1957, 1961, 1967, and 1971 respectively. In a way it was more like a series of sets of approximately three children.

I also have two step-sisters, born in 1963 and 1965.

My siblings and I have been all over the map but mostly unconstrained as far as children. My oldest brother had two with his first wife, born in 1973 and 1974. He then had three with his second wife, starting in 1988, which is also when my sister had her first of two. That's a 14 year gap between the first two and the start of the subsequent wave that ended (for now) with my second in February 2006.

My next brother down has five kids ranging from 17 this year to about 9, maybe 10. His ex wanted six and that was part of what led to their divorcing. The fifth was his caving in and then he got the big V without telling her first. She had one brother, was orphaned young and totally estranged from her family. The kids were a fantasy fulfillment of having "her" family. She will have nothing to do with extended family and keeps us from contact with them. Sadly, the kids want increasingly little to do with her and are only living with her, except the oldest who can play it to her advantage until she's out of there, through terror tactics.

My youngest brother has four, the oldest adopted via being a pre-existing child of his wife's. They had their three close together, the final one for the sole reason she had to try for a girl.

I have two, born in 2004 and 2006, with a third in mind, but definite plans to make it impossible to have more. Take that as you will, with my family size and my wife's family size of three in mind. In her case they were widely spaced, but not as much so as in my family. We think even the spacing in her s was a little far, and plus we're old and need to get it over with or forget it.

We like the dynamic of three. We've seen families of two kids and the horrific relations between the kids. We've seen actual and virtual single child families (a friend of mine was born in 1961 when his parents were both 41 and his sibs were already grown, and he is very much an "only child") and not liked what we've seen. Plus intelligent people need to breed, and having singles in the face of the population implosion isn't doing any "population bomb" favors as we might once have been led to believe.

The dynamic of three is a good one. We still sometimes think our two are perfect and perhaps we ought to stop, but we've been planning three so long, and the dynamic, and all that. It even makes more sense for homeschooling; built in socialization and not giving up the idea of homeschooling because it seems a waste to devote all that to one child.

1:07 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Jay said...

I should add that one of the things that has made us think twice about a third is the requirements that make a van or SUV necessary because car seats and boosters won't fit in a regular vehicle. It amuses us that the same mindset that would be saying "you SUV driving bastards!" is the one that intrusively wants to cushion your kids from any and all danger, no matter how much is costs you and how incrementally miniscule the benefit.

1:12 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Teresa said...

Happy Mother's Day to you Helen.

I think we're missing something here when talking about the number of children in families. I would think that yes, your life growing up would certainly have something to do with the number of children you end up with, but also I think the temperment of the parents plays into the decision.

I came from a family with 3 kids, I have 2. But my reasons had less to do with how I was raised than my ability to deal with being a mom. I was never the "mothering" type. I babysat, but didn't really like doing it. I was woefully aware of my shortcomings as a mother. I had no extended family help at all. Two kids was the most I was able to deal with, without freaking out.

I see mothers who deal with 4 and 5 kids with ease and wonder how they do it. I love my kids, but I love them better as adults. *grin*

1:27 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Teresa,

Happy mother's day to you also. I also think temperament of the parents is very important. I never thought I would be much of a mother either--mainly because I don't like children's activities! I find them very dull and depressing and did as a kid also. Luckily, my ten year old feels the same way and loves to read etc. I admire moms with several kids but it is not my cup of tea. I just borrow one of the cousins if my daughter needs a companion.

1:58 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, there is a much darker side to all of this that doens't get nearly enough attention.

No, there shouldn't be any "obligation" for number of children reared by a couple. I don't think sane person would advocate that.

However, there is a looming problem in our society in terms of the birth rate. Ours is hovering right around 2 per couple. To maintain replacement-level society needs to be at 2.1, because some people don't make it long enough to have kids, others don't have kids, etc.

Our population is still increasing, but this is because of Immigration, not because of our birthrate.

It's a very large problem, actually, particularly if our birthrate continues to decline. Kids take care of the elderly, so when a generation has LESS kids than itself than it starts to become hard to take care of the older generation. The looming retirement entitlement crisis is a symptom of that - we wouldn't have that crisis had our birthrate been higher. And it's just going to get worse as medicine advances and, thankfully, people live longer.

Another reason it's bad is because of the Economic devastation that comes with it. Less people means less people to fill needed jobs. It means less consumers. It means less tax base. And that means shrinking economies(recession). As Mark Steyn has put it, if only one million babies are born in 2006, it's a pretty good bet that a country will not be able to fill two million openings in 2026.

This is already starting to happen in Europe and Japan.

Their economies are struggling, largely because of socialistic policies(especially in Europe's case), but also because of their shrinking demographics.

At the current birthrates, there will be 100 MILLION LESS EUROPEANS by mid-century! That's astonishing! Simple self-extinction. A world-war would have a hard time wiping out that many people. Likewise, there will be between 30 and 50 MILLION LESS Japanese in the next thirty or so years.

It's a huge, huge problem.

Not just culturally and economically, but also socially - it has great reprecussions for things like the War on Terror.

Europe's declining birthrates are why they are allowing in so many Muslims to immigrate to their countries - to try and make up the difference. But these Muslims are coming into Europe with no real need to assimilate because of their numbers, and as we've seen they are slowly changing the Continent.

By mid-Century, Europe will be another Middle East, if things don't change. Muslims tend to have HIGH birthrates. Can you imagine the consequences of us "losing" Europe as part of Western Civilation? To unassimilated Muslims?

The very existence of Western Civiliation is at stake, simply because those in the West have basically chosen to no longer exist, and begin the process of self-extinction. While those in the world we might not want to gain more influence are having loads of kids, moving into those areas where we aren't at replacement level, and taking over the culture.

So no, people should not be obligated to have at least two and possibly more kids. Of course not.

But we SHOULD begin to talk about the dangers of not doing so, and educate and encourage people to have more children... if only for the sake of the continuation of our Western way of life.

2:13 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger dadvocate said...

Anon. 2:13 makes an excellent point about birthrate. Putin in Russia is talking about offering incentives to increase the birthrate. Italy is trying to increase the birhrate to sustestance levels also.

I find the possible scenario that Anon. describes quite frightening for my children and my children's children.

2:27 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger The Blue Square said...

I am the youngest of six, and I can see having up four kids. Then again, my parents started off thinking four, then decided to have two more.

I'm 17, so those decisions are still a long way off, and we'll see what my future wife thinks. I have had and am still having a positive experience with such a large family. Being the youngest and only boy has made me somewhat introverted and more attune to the feminine point of view, especially since I've lacked all that much male companionship. Yet still, I'm a straight, competitive, Christian male, and I like the idea of having a large family. So, when it's time for me to have kids, I'm going to be honest and say, I want boys, boys, boys! (Girls are nice, too, though; whatever God gives me.)

Anonymous 12:13, all of my sibilings are not dysfunctional, so I guess my mother and father had that "relatively rare talent" of which you speak.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

2:33 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I'm the 4th of seven children (bless my mom's heart) and thus far all of my married siblings (the three older than me, and ong younger) either have a baby or are trying to get one. We all have expressed a preference for having large families, but it seems to be harder for this generation than for my mother's. It's unlikely my oldest brother (he has two) will be able to have more than one more, due to health and financial reasons.

I had a family studies teacher who was interested in this kind of thing and had done some studies of it. It's increasingly harder to do, of course, with smaller families, but he's located in Utah. That makes it a little easier. What he generally found was that people have the same number of children as their parents, plus or minus one, unless they hail from really disfunctional families.

Of course, with a margin of 2, you encompass most families nowadays. :)

Now I've gotta go call my mom...

2:45 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone with a brother 4 years younger than myself, and comparing our relationship with that of my nephews who are 2 years apart in age, I'd have to say this:

If you're going to have more than one child, make sure they're either very close together in age or very far apart. 4 years is a nightmare of jealousy and rivalry. 2 years not so much, and 6 years or more the sibling is safely into 'cute' range.

Of course, having parents who valued peace and quiet over judicious settling of disputes didn't help much either.

2:47 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Weeva said...

There are three of us in my family (my two younger brothers and me) and I've always thought 2-3 kids was about right. My boyfriend on the other hand comes from a family of 9 siblings (the youngest just turned 1 year.) He too thinks that 2-3 kids is about right, but for a reason other than quiet or privacy (though those definitely play a part!): he wishes he could have seen more of his youngest siblings growing up.

3:11 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Paul said...

Hey Doc:

I come from 5 and my wife from 7. Fairly typical it would seem for our ages. However, this has nothing to do with the number of children we have now. This past thursday, my wife just gave birth to our 15th child.

Our family size has nothing to do with our growing up. As you can imagine, it has to do with our faith. Specifically, we believe we should accept the children God gives to us. This is in accordance with the scriptures in the bible.

So in a world with lots of worry and concern, we forge ahead and look toward a bright future.

Look for the photo on


3:16 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous sally said...

I'd have 10 kids if I could. Not because I'm particularly maternal, but because what Dr. Helen said about the "smothering bond" with only children is absolutely correct.

I actually have 2 older brothers. But they are half-brothers, so my mother "counts" them less than she counts me. Plus, I'm the only girl and, as she's never let me forget for a moment, "daughters are special." Mom's relationship with her sons, then, is now strained and distant. Meanwhile, Dad divorced her two years ago. Thus, as Mom's health declines, I'm virtually left alone to figure out how to take care of her. I'd do anything to have someone to really share this burden with.

Plus, the dynamic of a big family is simply kind of neat. Dad is one of five siblings. Their family was dysfunctional - they fought constantly, well into adulthood - which probably explains why none of them went on to have their own large families. But now that they're older and wiser, they all get along, and they provide great companionship and comfort for each other. I can understand not wanting to wait 50+ years to get there, though, and just going the more peaceful route of one or two kids.

I'm pregnant with my first at the moment, and the point about parenting expectations is also right on. From the day of conception, it seems, I've been warned that everything short of building an altar in my child's honor and venerating her as a goddess is considered "abusive." Everyone, absolutely everyone, out there in the parenting universe seems to think that all discomfort can and should be removed from childhood - and by legislation, nonetheless. Despite my fondness for big families, I can see how this would scare the crap out of potential parents.

3:28 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anga2010 said...

I am sixth of twelve.

First (boy) has 8
Second (boy) has 3
Third (girl) has 2
Fourth (girl) has 10
Fifth (boy) has 9
Sixth (me, boy) has 0 (unmarried)
Seventh (girl) has 5
Eigth (girl) has 3
Ninth (girl) has 7
Tenth (boy) has 0 (unmarried)
Eleventh (boy) has 0 (unmarried)
Twelfth (girl) has 0 (unmarried)

My father (career USAF officer) told me that his philosophy on having 12 children was this: "Train the first two and all the rest fall into line."

As a miliary family, we had access to socialised health care for the first 18 years of our lives. Only the first of my siblings has gone into the military.


3:30 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

One is an only child.
Two - the eldest dominates
Three - coalitions form
Four - my mate wanted to try for a girl (got one)

3:53 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Jake said...

I'm an only child, adopted into an academic family. My wife has 4 siblings. Both our families were functional middle class ones.

We have 4 surviving children - two boys and two girls. The eldest child, a girl, died at the age of 6 some 20 years ago.

Our eldest, a son (26), is - like most South Africans his age - working in London for two years and has just got off the phone from wishing his mom a happy mothers day. The next, a daughter (24) is looking at au pairing in the US while boy friend starts a Philosophy PhD at Rutgers later this year, the third, a son (20) is in 3rd year of varsity, and the last, a daughter (17) is in 11th grade and looking forward to being finished with school.

Our family is bigger than most of our friends and acquantances, and it has been an effort educating them. But it's worked out just fine. So far, anyway...

4:15 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Californian said...

My husband and I both come from a families of four. We also have four but only the second was planned. We didn't want our first to be an only child. Not only did we worry about the smothering we would have most definitely exposed our first to, but we felt it was essential that she had someone to talk to later in life about how "weird" her parents were. No one can ever know you the way a sibling can. Not parents, not spouses. Anyhow...never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have four kids. I am so happy it worked out that way. We are having a blast. I am truly blessed!

4:19 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger jaycurrie said...

I come from a two child family. So does my wife. My brother has two boys. I have three boys one from a previous marriage. My wife and I are looking to have one more child - which, as I am turning 50 in a few days - better happen tout de suite lest I be about a hundred when the last leaves the nest.

And yes, we would like a girl. But a healthy baby is far more important. I don't think either of us has a particular view of the "right" number of children grounded in our family history; rather we both like kids, have fun with them and love watching them grow up.

There is no reason to think children need be expensive. A little clever thrifting, eliminating television entirely, a good public library and you have happy kids whose material needs are minimal.

What is expensive is the idea that you must raise "perfect kids" and be "perfect parents". Expensive because you are chasing a fantasy.

Possibly because my wife and I are older we have reached the happy stage where we are pretty confident about what we are doing with our children. It may not always be the right thing; but if we make a mistake we know we can almost certainly fix it.

4:23 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of two, mother was one of three, father was one of four, each grandmother was one of six. My husband is the youngest of three, his mother was one of five.

Of the married cousins in my generation, one has four, three cousins have two each, I have one, and another cousin has one one the way.

Having watched my (stay-at-home) cousin with her four, I would love to have four, but biologically (my first was at age 33), economically (I'm the primary breadwinner), and housing-wise (4+ BR homes in the city I live in that also are in decent neighborhoods easily hit the 2 million mark) it is just not possible. Unfortunately, I have too little time (and energy!) with my daughter as it is working full time; our goal is to have the second once she starts preschool. Also, my husband who, like me, really likes peace and quiet, even hints that maybe one is enough...

Now, had I married my husband when I was age 25, maybe that would be a different story...

Interestingly, among my female friends in the neighborhood, those who had only one child who is now hitting the 10-teenage years all wish they would have had one more when they had the chance.

4:27 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Sue said...

Interesting reading others' comments. I only have one child, but not by choice. I had several miscarriages and made a decision not to pursue "heroic measures" to have more than one child. Now, at 42, I wonder if I made the right decision. I pity my daughter because she does not have siblings and doesn't know what she's missing. Each family is its own little culture, and she will be alone in the world when we're gone.

6:44 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger copswife said...

My husband and I have 3, wish we had gone for the fourth, so my daughter (might) have a sister. I am one of three girls and my husband is number two of ten (4 girls, 6 boys). Of his 9 siblings, one has 6 children, one has 5, three have 4 and four have 3 children. Guess my in-laws did something right.

7:15 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

Very interesting discussion.

I have one sibling (and he has two children). My mother was from a family of five children (not counting two who died as infants); my father was an only child.

My wife is one of ten children (with twenty years separating the oldest from the youngest), a very loving and close-knit family. Thanksgiving dinner for us means getting together with between 35 and 40 people (we rent a parish hall that has two ovens and a commercial grade dishwasher). All of her siblings have at least one child (including a brother and his wife who have adopted two), two of her sisters have three children and her eldest brother has four. Now the older nieces and nephews are having kids. (My wife's mother was one of five; my wife's father was an only child.)

I have three children. My eldest, from my first marriage, lived moved in with as a teen and experienced what life was like with little kids. He graduated from high school in 1986, which allowed me to say to people that I had one in college, one in kindergarten, and one in Pampers. We considered having another child but both of the younger two were Caesarian births (medically required) and we decided that a vasectomy for me was probably wiser than risking another C-section.

My eldest (now in his late thirties) is married and has one child; neither of the younger two (one just turned 24 and the other will be 21 this week) is yet married.

7:49 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love seeing families with lots of children, well-managed or not. I look at all of those young, eager faces, and think, "You're going to be paying into social security while I'm pulling out of it!"

Go large families!


7:51 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Penny said...

I'm one of seven neglected, underfed, raggedy children.

My parents have 10 grandchildren.

Thee of my siblings have no children.

8:18 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A story from this weekend concerned my 3 children and the only-child of my brother and the only-child of our frieds. On a holiday several years ago we bought a pinata. When the pinata was broken all 5 dove in but the two only-children jumped right back out because they weren't used to competing. I'm not sure what the message is. Today they're all happy and seemingly well adjusted so they must all learn what they need to know somewhere along the way.

9:01 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

I'm Anonymous 11:37. I'm honored that you chose to discuss my point. And I'm embarrassed that I didn't wish you a Happy Mother's Day, as did Teresa, a woman with obvious class. Let me rectify that – Happy Mother’s Day!

Your points about society’s expectations of parents are well-taken. I babysat infants until 3 am when I was in 5th grade, then walked home in the dark. I had a paper route, a 14-year-old girl, riding a bike alone at 4 on a Sunday morning. I would no more let my children do that now than jump off a building. I do think it’s a more dangerous world now than when I was young, but perhaps it’s living near a huge metropolitan area and not in rural Idaho that makes the difference.

Still, I think my expectations for my children trump society’s. I have two boys. Both were geniuses, but the older one suffered a head-injury which changed that. The older one is easy to satisfy, because he is not affected by others’ opinions of what is fashionable. My younger one, though brilliant in math and sciences, can be a bit of a groupie. He may want label clothing, but I tell him he can buy it with money that is growing in the yard (weeds in the flower bed which I’ll pay for him to harvest). When he sees what the others cost, he is satisfied with blue jeans from Sam’s, shirts from Wal-Mart. Many girls at school dress in “slut-wear”, very low-cut pants, bare abdomens, little chamisole tops that display almost all their endowments when they lean over. Many in my acquaintance won’t let their daughters dress that way. They, and I, swim against the current of society’s expectations, because we feel the responsibility of raising modest people who will be good human beings.

That said, if I had begun producing children when I was 20, not 32, I wonder if I would have had the same opinions about what my children should do and have. At 20 I was less certain of myself, and may have been more easily swayed by group-think.

I was a computer consultant when I had my first child, and dropped out of the work force to raise the kids. Many women asked me how I could stand being around little kids all the time, not having any “interesting” people to talk to. For a while that bothered me. I thought maybe I should put my son in daycare and go back to making a high 5-figure income. But I also believed that children need to be raised by smart women, not minimum-wage semi-interested parties who may not speak English. I attended two college classes every semester, and left my first son with a babysitter family for that time. One semester I left him with a family who had children his age. The mom was from the Philippines, her parents lived in the house, and her husband was a Caucasian American. My son stayed in their house about 6 hours a week. At the end of the single semester I left him there, he spoke Togalog, and I couldn’t understand what he wanted from me. That was an eye-opener. I decided that I wanted my children to have my guidance, my values, and for heaven’s sake, my language.

I have been reading Mark Steyn's analysis re: demography, as well as Fallaci's concerns about European population decline and her indictment of Islam. I lived in Saudi Arabia for 11 years, so the discussion about Islam is not my first attention to the subject. I lived across the street from the Saudi equivalent of "The Born Loser" - a man with 4 wives, each of whom had 4 daughters. No sons. This is 20 women in one house. He used to joke that when they loaded up the Suburban his family looked like a bunch of Puerto Ricans. That was more than 20 years ago - each of those 16 girls probably has 4 children, (64 more), and it's entirely likely, that since they often marry at menarche that there is another generational bumper crop since I met him (256? I’m losing count!). My husband used to say that they were out-breeding us, and I see he was right. I think that well-educated women in America often have one or two children, and stay in the work-force, because they don’t want to waste all that education. Now I am thinking smart women should be shelling out and teaching smart children to counter the trend Steyn and Fallaci have brought to light.

Anonymous 11:37

9:04 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jay who is concerned about the need for an SUV if he has 3. Don't think about it. We had settled on 2 but then I knew there should be 3. My husband generously agreed (finally) conditional on my changing the diapers. Fine with me! Today our youngest is 8 and no father could be prouder or happier of his son (actually of all three).
Regarding expectations on child-raising: don't let society's expectations influence your own. I think the best gift parents can give is to stay married to each other and to live a good life and be good role models. The rest will take care of itself.

10:38 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on mine and my husband's experience, it has more to do with the issues in the family of origin than with the number of siblings. He is from a family of 8 children and I am from a family of 6 children. We have two daughters. I would not mind having another, and probably would if he were not somewhere between ambivalent and opposed. I loved having siblings around - and continue to, as an adult. I think my husband felt like the children in his family did not receive sufficient parental attention.

Although his siblings seem to be having more children, on average, than my siblings.

10:55 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have three, and we say we got them in the correct order: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. That's the size of my wife's family, and less than half of mine.

11:01 PM, May 14, 2006  
Anonymous Susannah said...

This is so funny...I just read a discussion about this in another forum...particularly, attitudes about large families among children of large families.

I was one of three girls. My husband is also one of three siblings. We have six children. My mother always said she regretted not having a fourth, and that encouraged me to go on having children, as my husband was all for it. My mother is very supportive (as would have been my father, although he passed away several years ago).

I am comforted knowing my children will have each other when mom and dad are gone. I'm also aiming for lots and lots of grandchildren! I was not close to my extended family growing up, so I hope that our offspring will be more close-knit, with lots of cousins and aunties and uncles.

They are still young (under age 10), so I have no idea what their experience of a large-ish family will be, but I sure hope they go on to give us lots of grandchildren! I know they love the little ones (toddler and baby), so I have some hope.

I never considered myself especially good with children as a young girl, but of course I could not do without a single one of mine now. We do homeschool, so that takes away some of the outside pressures that so often pull families apart. I am glad my children are growing up to be friends with each other. My two oldest girls are especially close, and although squabbling does happen, my sisters and I grew out of that and now are fond of each other. I think it's great when siblings are friends. School chums come and go, but family is there for the rest of your life!

I know several large families, and all of them have fine children who seem to love each other. They are an example to me.

Motherhood is one calling that is definitely learned on-the-job. I have grown more through being a mother than through any other aspect of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

1:51 AM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Václav Patrik Šulik said...

By generations, my wife's mom was from a family with 7 kids, my father-in-law also was a family of 7 kids. My mother's family had 7 kids, my father's family had 4 kids. (for people interested in the sociology of religion, note that only my father was from a Roman Catholic family, my mother had no religion, wife's maternal was Methodist, wife's paternal was Christian Scientist).

I had three sisters and was the only boy. My wife had three brothers and was the only girl. We now have 3 girls and a boy, but are the "largest" family of this generation. Her brothers have 3, 3, and ) kids. My sisters have 3, 2 and 0 kids.

Last night, my wife and I were talking about this also, reflecting our her mother's day. You see, she took our three youngest kids (ages 9, 7, and 5) to a friend's house to watch their kids -- their 7 kids. The mother is hospitalized with leukemia and is going through a pretty severe treatment. My wife watched the kids, so her husband, the father of the 7, could spend the afternoon and evening with her, caring for her. After about three hours over there, I picked up my 2 youngest and another neigbor took 5 of the 7, along with my 9 year old, to a church function. That left my wife with the two youngest, ages 1 and 2. Oh, and did I mention the 1 year old was running a fever and vomiting?

Yet, as my wife was saying, when we had one child and went to two, that seemed to almost be paralyzing, yet, yesterday to be left with just the two to dote on, seemed freeing. And with the older kids (although none was over 10), each could play with (and in effect watch out for) the others -- which is why she took our three kids with her.

No question, being a mom is tough and we do well to set aside at least one day as a country, to honor our mothers -- no, it's not just a Halmark holiday.

p.s. -- my wife talked with the mom in the hospital and she said she was sounding much better and stronger. Apparently this is a very aggressive form of leukemia -- that if not caught and treated quickly it can lead to death in a matter of weeks or months. However, the treating physicians are very optimistic and the mom is as well. I'm hoping and praying she does do well -- she'll be in the hospital for 4 weeks. She has wonderful kids.

8:39 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous tyree said...

I am the second of eight children, my wife was the fourth of five children. We got married young and had five children. The interresting thing about our family is how many of our children's friends have no siblings. They all love hanging around our house because there is always something going on.

9:16 AM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Well, there are plans, then there is reality. 1 child from first marriage, triplets from second.

The map is not the territory. I came from a happy enough two child family, and thought I would go myself that way too. Sadly, the first marriage foundered. I remarried (Thank you God for allowing me to marry up)and we proceeded to work on another child. Despite our best and repetitive efforts, no pregnancy ensued. We looked for help from the usual sources, to no avail, and were pursuing adoption.

We were called about the fertility clinic's donor embryo program in which "left over" embryos are donated to couples (or singles) such as ourselves. We were told that they would implant two to see if we get one pregnancy.

For some strange reason they implanted three without consulting us and all three are now in preschool.

My wife and I are 46 with three year old triplets. You do the math.

I would not change a thing. God blessed us beyond what we deserve, but not beyond what we are caoable of. So there is the battle plan, then there is execution.

So for our mothers day my wife ate lobster I had prepared until she could not lift the fork for another bite. I had to cook them because we are too poor now to go out.


10:03 AM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Congrats on your triplets! What a great story.

10:40 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anon 824 said...

I had only 1 sibling. I wanted a large family . . . a house full 'o kids. But medical issues limited us to 2. They are wonderful, but I will always wish there had been more.

10:53 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anon 824 said...

I wanted to add this...

If you have only 1 child, and you CAN have another, please do it. Its easier to have 2 children than 1, plus the bond between siblings will be the longest they will have in their lives. Longer than parents, friends, or spouses.

10:57 AM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Sarah said...

My mother's father was the second oldest of 13 (11 of whom lived past 25) and my father's father was the middle son out of 7 boys (4 of whom lived past 25.) They each married a 1 of 2 partner; the two sets of grandparents each had two children (my mom has one sister, my father has one brother.) Then my mother had three children, my father had three children (only one with each other, that'd be me) and I'm the oldest and still unmarried, so stay tuned. My older stepbrother was the only child product of two only children (I think; I'm not really close to his mother) and he and his wife have two children under the age of 6; I don't think those two will be the last, though you never know.

My mother's sister has one daughter, and my father's brother has two sons (yes, in case you're wondering, almost everyone in the family has "only sons" or "only daughters" -- I was the first daughter on my father's direct paternal line in at least three generations, and no one on my mother's direct maternal line has had a son that I know of. My half-brother is more or less the only one, out of the group of cousins that we share, who has sisters.)

My next youngest half-sister and I both want lots of children, to the point of saying things like "if I can't have kids, we'll adopt." We were both homeschooled, and we're Mormon, so it's actually a little odd for us that there's only three (our last young single adult activity chat turned to families: one girl is the second oldest of 11, another girl has 6 brothers, and one of the guys has 5 sisters.) I'm not sure what the youngest of us three (my mother's daughters) wants, but she's only 16 so it'll probably change five or six times before she has a chance to do anything about it.

Anyway, I think we've all come to the conclusion that "more than 3" is good. With 3 we've found there are too many 2 against 1 alliances (the younger two are the Anime/Japanese alliance, us older two are the Political Science/Current Affairs/History alliance, the younger and I are the "Let's just sit at home and read rather than go to a party" alliance.) 2 was fun for my sisters over the summers I was at my dad's, but it also gets a little claustrophobic. Based on how annoyed our friend with the 10 brothers and sisters is with some of the youngest kids, I'm thinking something between 5 and 9 is ideal for me, psychologically. But I don't mind the idea of not being able to go out to dinner or the movies with the kids much, and I think that 3 on 3 games of basketball between siblings are awesome. And I've had enough years of being homeschooled and knowing homeschooling families to have an idea of what works and what I'd like to do with a larger group. And, my Sunday School class has between 3 and 7 children in it each week, and I know I candle groups of that size.

My plans will not be finalized until a) I'm married and b) I've had a chance to see what happens when I put my older stepbrother and four younger half-siblings in the same room together (it's never happened yet -- I have five siblings, and each of them hasn't met at least two of the remaining 4.) There's an 18 year age difference from oldest to youngest, so it'll be interesting.

11:32 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous cassandra said...

Recently my 64-year-old brother told me if he'd known his 2 kids were going to turn out so well, he'd have had 10 of them. He tends toward hyperbole, but still, there is so much fear about it all.

I am childless, because my mother (who had 3) indicated that children got in the way of one's happiness. At the time she was divorced and going with some dude who didn't want us kids around. Boy did that have an effect on me.

Also, being the youngest there were never any infants around, though I was certainly fascinated with the neighboring kids. And I bought into all the feminist crap so, here I am, mother to 2 cats..rats. All that good health and fertility wasted.

11:33 AM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, serious answer. (I'm the social security guy from earlier in the thread.)

I have zero children. I came from a family of four, 1 sister, also zero children.

Sis was born when I was three, and I have memories of being an only child, but not many.

For myself, I've decided to have no children, because I am unwilling to make the lifestyle changes to do the job right. Making an actual human being from scratch and turning it loose upon the world. Scarey stuff. And the most important job you can do.


1:23 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Reject the Koolaid said...

I came from a two kid family and hated it not because it was dysfunctional so much as because one little brother was a real pain in the butt.

Swore I'd have one or three -- and ended up with one. Now that it's too late, kind of wish I'd had three.

1:24 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous five of six said...

Another interesting question is how we define large families. When I grew up, a large family had eight or more children. My family was medium-sized with six children. Small families had four or fewer. And those poor only children! Everyone felt sorry for them, with no one to play with.

We knew families with eight children living in a two-bedroom home, and we knew families with eight children living in shacks. Some families were happy and some were less so, leading me to conclude that happiness is not connected to our financial circumstances.

Today, there are only large families with three or more children or regular families, with one or two. Parents worry much more about how to afford children than my parents ever did. The definition of "enough" seems to have changed as well.

1:35 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Reginleif said...

My mother has one brother. My dad has a twin brother and a sister.

I have one brother. Suffice it to say we're not close.

I am childfree. Don't like 'em, don't want 'em. I'm sure this will piss off a lot of those who have already posted on this thread, but my life is mine to live the way I like. I am not a womb on legs in service to some imaginary sky-pixie from a book written 2,000 years ago, nor for the purposes of "outbreeding" all those icky dark-skinned people.

1:39 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Of course it is fine not to want children--not everyone does. My question is, why the hostility about it? It's a fine decision for some people to make. But we all start out as children, to have adults, someone has to have them. I see these websites such as and others that seem to be filled with anger about "breeders." Can't one just decide children are not for them without also disliking people who want children?

1:57 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Reginleif said...

Helen, why don't you ask the same question about "hostility" to all the religious fruitcakes who think that I'm not doing my "Wom[b]anly duty" by reproducing? Or all the parents who continually call us childfree people "selfish" for not having kids, even though their children's education usually depends on my taxes? Or people like Steyn and Fallaci who think that my duty as a white woman is to "outbreed" Mexicans and Arabs? (Yep, ladies, better give up your reproductive rights now, or have 'em taken from you later! What a choice.)

Personally, I think some of the folks on this thread are far more selfish in their reasons for reproducing than many CF folks I know are in their reasons for not doing so...and deluded as well.

2:11 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger dr. fly killa said...

I for one am glad that reginleif isn't having kids. She sounds like a first-class b*tch and who wants a mom like that?

2:49 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Kathy said...

My husband and I each came from families of 3. We have 3 under 6 years old so far. I'm almost 36, and my infants are particularly difficult (they come a few weeks early which contributes to more frequent feedings for a few months), so I don't know how many I can handle. But we'll have as many as we can manage sanely, perhaps just 1 more. We have a 3-bedroom house, and I am not at all bothered by having the kids share rooms. For goodness sake, they have much more than we ever had, and they're rolling in riches compared to what their grandparents had. It probably helps that I don't read parenting magazines or watch the shows, so I'm not bombarded with so many messages about where we fall short.

Interestingly, neither grandmother is enthusiastic about our increasing family size. I think one has financial concerns and the other (my mom) worries about my health.

3:23 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Reginleif said...

Yeah, "Dr. Fly Killa," show us that holy maternal LURRRVE for anyone who doesn't grovel before the Mirakul of Motherhood.

Say, weren't you whining and puling about the Janet Jackson nipple flash a few years ago because OMG MY CHEEELLDRUNNN MITE SEE A B00BY111 Yeah, we need more of *that* sort of prudishness in this country.

3:46 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Reginleif wrote: "I am childfree. Don't like 'em, don't want 'em. I'm sure this will piss off a lot of those who have already posted on this thread, but my life is mine to live the way I like."

This is America, and this lady is free to be childless. She might have been a great mom, something happens to us when we hold them for the first time. I thought I was in touch with my feelings for a guy, then I held my eldest daughter. WOW. Levels of affect that I did not know I had.

But it seems silly to me to make even an internet judgment on someone's ability to parent based on an email or two or three. Reginleif, God bless you. Have fun! It is yours to do. Thanks for not having children when you did not want to.


4:00 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the third child out of eight. I have wonderful memories of growing up with my brothers and sisters. I consider my sisters my best friends today. I shared a room with two of them for most of my life, and will admit that we were the worst of enemies during those years. My oldest brother and sister each have four kids, my next sister has three and the rest of us each have two (except for my youngest brother who has none). I would have had four kids if I hadn't miscarried twins at age 40. People used to ask me if I wanted a big family when I grew up, as if belonging to one made you want one, too. I always said no. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good childhood, I just didn’t think I had the ability to take care of so many people. I felt loved as a child, but I felt that I was part of a group (“the girls” or “the big ones”) and not much as an individual within the family. Were we dysfunctional? No family is perfect, and mine is no exception. My mother sometimes was overwhelmed with the large family and depended on the older children taking care of the younger ones a lot. I wanted more than one child because sharing the excitement of Christmas Eve, going to the pool in the summer, going on vacation, learning to read or ride a bike from an older sibling, were great experiences for me and I wanted my kids to have them, too. Also, when my husband and I are gone, they have each other afterward. My mother died two years ago, and my father won’t be around for much longer. But I still have my brothers and sisters to share my grief and memories. One great thing now about our family is that the cousins (the next generation) are good friends and act as surrogate brothers and sisters to each other.

My youngest brother does not have kids: no one in my family questions his decision and, by the way, he is a wonderful uncle to his nieces and nephews.

5:03 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Mom of two said...

A friend who lived overseas had 7 children and was pregnant with #8 when she told me this story. She brought her kids back to the US each summer, without her husband, who stayed behind to work. Each of her kids wore a backpack, and lined up behind her like ducklings following their mother duck through all the airports. On one trip she reached Immigration in New York, and the officer saw her brood and asked if she was traveling "alone". She looked at the kids, looked at him, and said "I haven't been alone for 14 years!"

5:43 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm one of two children. I was a happy but very selfish only child who enjoyed long hours alone, writing and pretending, until my mother decided when I was 14 to get knocked up and bring a child she couldn't afford into the world. Neither my sister's father nor mine ever paid child support, my mom made it clear men just existed to have sex and couldn't handle responsibilities of children nor did they have to. Her feminist bullcrap about women being strong enough to do it all themselves fostered a hatred and envy of men I still have to this day.

Since I prefered to be quiet, creative and surround myself with colorful childlike things instead of normal teen things like getting laid, working a job I hated, drugs, drinking and boyfriends and since I had no wish nor want to have any children of my own, my mother and my family rejected me and raised my little sister as the golden child in mother's mirror image. It took until I was nearly thirty for my family to begrudgingly accept me or at least to quit constantly bitching about my silly toys or my penchant to prefer writing stories to rearing kids, sex, clothes shopping or whatever it is "normal" women do.

Today I have NO children and NEVER will. If my upbringing by a mother who thought of me as a burden and something she could pay attention to only when she felt like it didn't do it, my lack of a biological clock, short temper and intolerance for whining certainly did. I'd be the type to abuse my kids, it's how I was raised, and to go hide in my room when I got sick of them. I have been harassed, berated and made to feel like less of a woman for it. That's where the bitterness of the Childfree comes from, from people who don't understand and seem to go out of their way to make such a life harder than it needs to be and think the whole world needs to be one giant playground for children =/

True, I miss the large family gatherings of my youth.. but it wasn't worth sacrificing my sanity and morals for. I'm certain my sister will follow in my mom's footsteps and have kids she doesn't want or can't afford and be welcomed with open arms by all. I'll just continue on enjoying my freedom and creating in private as I wished I could have in my teen years.

8:14 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an only child, and I just had my third child 4 months ago. I am 36. My mother died during this pregnancy, which was a very hard blow. I would have had more kids if she were still living, but I think now I may be done. However, after reading all the comments above, I am thinking about a fourth.
Reginleif, you are making me sad. You have been hurt and disappointed. Your world view doesn't allow for people trusting each other or being happy. You seem to think those people are suckers.
There are trustworthy people in the world, and it is possible to be happy. With your attitude unfortunately, it will be hard for you to ever realize that this is true.

4:54 PM, May 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Reingleif needs to finish her degree, get out of academia and spend some time in the real world... And taste the bitter fruit of regret... While we all point and laugh...

7:32 PM, May 17, 2006  
Blogger Gina said...

happy mothers day !

9:43 PM, May 18, 2006  
Anonymous Pete said...

I do think the way you were raised impacts the number of children you're willing to have. In my family of 8 children: sex(# of kids)

The youngest is 33, so it's not like we haven't had the opportunity.

11:01 AM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read »

2:29 PM, March 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:07 AM, March 15, 2009  
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